Friday, April 30, 2010

Hawaii’s Legislature Passes Civil Unions Bill - Lez Get Real

Hawaii’s Legislature Passes Civil Unions Bill - Lez Get Real

Representatives has approved a measure allowing same-sex civil unions by a 31-20 margin.

The bill, which would give unmarried same-sex and heterosexual couples the same rights as married couples under state law, had been stalled but was unexpectedly revived on the last day of this year’s Hawaiian legislative session was passed in the Senate in January by a vote of 18-7 and now only requires the signature of Gov. Linda Lingle to become law.

Lingle, a Republican, hasn’t said whether she’ll reject it or sign it into law but her office said later that she would carefully review the bill.

If approved, Hawaii will become one of six states – along with California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington – to grant essentially all the rights of marriage to same-sex couples without authorizing marriage itself.

Five other states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage: Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The Aloha State has been one of the original battlegrounds for LGBT rights since the early 90s. The Hawaii Supreme Court ruling nearly made Hawaii the first state to legalize same-sex marriage before Hawaiian voters approved the nation’s first “defense of marriage” constitutional amendment in 1998.

This year the issue has proven equally divisive, with religious groups arguing that civil unions are a step the “down the slippery slope” toward legalizing same-sex marriage and the civil union law appeared to be dead earlier this, when the House didn’t take a vote on the measure and postponed it indefinitely after massive protests by church groups and fears that Lingle would veto it.

Gov. Lingle now has 45 days to either sign or veto the bill.

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